Getting injured on the job is a serious matter that can cost you big time in terms of medical bills and lost wages. Workers compensation insurance was created for these exact scenarios and is meant to protect injured employees from financial suffering during their recovery. This insurance also protects employers from being sued by their employees for an injury (and therefore encourages more businesses to invest in a workers comp policy). The legal jargon of insurance can be difficult to understand, so here’s a basic guide to your workers compensation rights.
Workers compensation laws are dictated by the states, meaning there is no overarching federal law regarding your rights as an employee. This is critical to understand because it may mean your state doesn’t legally require businesses to have insurance. Check your state laws (e.g., if you live in Iowa, research Iowa workers compensation law to find out more) to see what your company must legally provide.
The most important thing to understand after discovering whether or not your employer provides workers comp benefits is the kind of coverage you’re entitled to. Ask your employer about the extent of your coverage and if there are any special allowances. It’s good to know in advance what you can file for after an accident. Most policies cover any costs associated with the work injury, as well as payments for disability or lost wages. In the case of death, policies normally provide money for the funeral so that loved ones don’t have to.
While workers compensation can stretch to a variety of scenarios, there are some it simply won’t cover. Employees who engaged in negligent activities at work, arrived intoxicated, started a fight with another employee, or acted recklessly and in disregard of safety policies can’t get injuries covered. That said, if you were acting responsibly and an accident still occurred that was your fault, you can still get covered.
Talk to your employer about the claims process and what you should do if you get injured. This can clear up any confusion that might arise in the moment of an accident when you aren’t sure what to do. Always report the injury to your employer immediately so they can verify it happened and start the paperwork for filing a claim. They’ll then give you the right paperwork to fill out and return to them, which they can then give to their insurance provider. Never wait to report an injury or start a claim, as that could lessen your chances of getting compensated.